Sunday, September 24
I was greeted by a beautiful orange sunrise over the Delta. Unfortunately, I didn’t dig out the camera. I packed up my camp and hit the road by 8:30.
I stopped for fuel in Rio Vista and headed north on Highway 84. A couple miles north of Rio Vista, on 84 is the Ryer Island Ferry. The Ryer Island Ferry is one of two Delta ferries owned and operated by Caltrans. The ferries run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, crossing the Sacramento River. I had read about these oddities and figured that I was so close, that I had to do it just because.
I pulled up to the ferry gate and the operator lowered the ramp. I rolled my bike onto the ferry called the “Real McCoy II.” It was a small ferry, with room for about six cars. I was the only passenger on this trip of less than 1000 feet. I wondered if it would be more cost effective for the state to just build a bridge, rather than run a ferry constantly. There must be some reason why the ferries still exist here.
The ferry ride itself was nothing special. Just sitting on the bike for two minutes as the ferry ferried me across the river. Once on the other side, the ramp lowered and the gate went up and I rode off, passing a couple cars waiting for the westbound run. I went down the road a ways and turned around to take the ferry back. The operator might have thought it was strange, but I’m sure this isn’t the first time someone has just gone back and forth.
After my detour, I returned to Highway 12 to continue on toward the Napa Valley. I had planned to take Highway 12 and then get onto Highway 128 and ride through the Calistoga area, but my written directions didn’t mesh with the GPS and I must have missed the turn. I stayed on Highway 12, heading toward Santa Rosa.
I hit the town of Sonoma and started to feel hungry, as I hadn’t eaten breakfast. For such a touristy, hipster town, it seemed unusually devoid of coffee places. Then again, this is wine country. I was on my way out of town and found what I was looking for. Almost as if it was fate, I saw a sign for a cafe with several motorcycles parked out front. I pulled into the parking lot and parked my motorcycle behind an old BMW R80 G/S … the original adventure bike. In true hipster form, that bike was adventure before adventure was cool. The cafe, Cafe Scooteria, was a neat little drive-up coffee joint where the coffee is made on a small trailer. But there’s also a seating area for those who aren’t on the go. The seating area is an old service station and is chock full of motorcycle memorabilia and old motorcycles. I sat next to an old Triumph and enjoyed a white mocha and a spicy sausage breakfast burrito.
Fully caffeinated and with a full belly, I continued on.
I passed through rolling hills with gentle curves, bordered on both sides by vineyards as far as the eye could see. I surely didn’t miss out on any scenery. I passed a few roads that headed east into the mountains. After reviewing the roads back home, a few of them would have taken me over the mountains on roads that were a motorcyclist’s dream, and put me back on my original planned track. I was running on a schedule though, and didn’t stop to check when I had the chance.
I arrived in Santa Rosa and turned onto Highway 101, a road I was very familiar with in a car. Highway 101 seemed to be an easy way to finish the ride. There was little traffic, and the highway’s gentle sweeping curves were much nicer on the bike. When I got to Leggett, I exited 101 to hop on Highway 271. 271 is the old highway that was built before 101 was expanded to a four-lane freeway through Leggett. At the end of the off ramp I crossed past with a guy who was likely one of the local “farmers.” He was easily recognizable by his flat-bill hat and lifted Toyota. For an unknown reason, he must have been trying to assert his dominance because he revved up his engine and took off down the curves as fast as he could. Whatever floats your boat, man. I’m not one to get into dick-swinging contests with douchebags. I was not impressed by him.
Highway 271 was tight and twisty, following the contours of the canyon. The road kept you on your toes with several patches of loose gravel that had fallen from the mountainsides above the pavement. After a few miles, I got back on 101 for the run home along the Eel River Canyon.
I finished up riding through familiar territory in the Eel River Valley. There’s something comforting about finishing up in familiar territory.
In all, today was my longest single-day ride since I began riding.
Day 6: 314.8 mi. Total Distance: 1345.82
Highways Taken: CA-12, CA-84, US-101, CA-271
The natural beauty of California never ceases to amaze me. The sheer size of geological features in the Cascades and Sierras is both awe inspiring and humbling. Californians are truly blessed with some of the best riding areas in the world.
The thing about adventures is that once you finish one, you want to plan the next. Before this trip, I had never gone anywhere near as far on a motorcycle. Still being a new rider, unfamiliar roads still worry me a little … and maybe it’s an irrational fear, or maybe it’s human nature to fear the unknown. I had no doubt that I could do it though. And it always helps to have good friends with you. Ted Simon said it best: “It is remarkably easy to do things, and much more frightening to contemplate them.”
See you down the road.